Matt Barkley’s spring could not be classified as perfect.
But it’s been pretty close for USC’s sophomore quarterback.
Barkley has not had a pass intercepted in three scrimmages, a huge leap for a player who seemingly could not avoid turnovers last spring and had 14 passes picked off last season.
Barkley said Thursday that he was looking forward to finishing strong Saturday when USC concludes spring practice with the annual Trojan Huddle scrimmage at the Coliseum.
“I made it a major point not to turn the ball over and protect it this spring,” said Barkley, who has completed 41 of 67 passes for 537 yards and eight touchdowns in the scrimmages. “It might be unsatisfactory feelings-wise when you have to throw the ball away, but I’m really happy with the fact that I’m not giving the ball away.”
Coach Lane Kiffin wants to see Barkley finish without an interception.
“I don’t want to jinx him,” Kiffin said, “but keep the shutout going.”
After 14 workouts, Kiffin has learned plenty about the Trojans.
“I didn’t know our defensive line was potentially this good,” he said. “I didn’t know we had this many depth issues at some other positions. So you find out some good and some bad.”
Among the best: Defensive lineman Armond Armstead and receiver Ronald Johnson, who Kiffin described as “potential dominant players,” based on their spring performances.
The 6-foot-5, 295-pound Armstead suffered a broken foot during training camp last season and sat out five games. He started five of the last eight games, three at end and two at tackle.
“For a guy we didn’t know a ton about coming in, he really has had a phenomenal camp,” Kiffin said.
Johnson, who is nursing an elbow sprain, practiced Tuesday because the Trojans were not in full pads, but he will not participate in the scrimmage.
Jordan Cameron, converted from receiver to tight end, was among the most improved players, Kiffin said.
Saturday’s scrimmage offers all players a chance to “make a statement about who they are,” Kiffin said.
He added that in a game environment, “some guys start to play better; some guys start to make more mental mistakes. We’ll take all that into account.”
Linebacker Jordan Campbell was absent again, and Kiffin said he was still looking into details of an unspecified incident that has put Campbell’s status with the team in jeopardy. Campbell was involved in an altercation, according to a source with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly.... The scrimmage begins at noon. Tickets are $10 for adults. Children 12 and younger will be admitted free.